VfL Bochum showed a brave performance but all their commitment didn’t win them any points against promotion-chasing Hamburger SV. After a goalless first half, Simon Zoller put us ahead with a brilliant strike on 66 minutes but that lead lasted only two minutes before Leibold scored. Pohjanpalo (73’) and Kittel (87’) sealed a bitter home defeat after a more than decent match.
After the defeat at Bielefeld, VfL head coach Thomas Reis changed his starting formation on four positions: Patrick Drewes gave his League debut between the sticks due to Riemann's suspension; Maxim Leitsch returned from injury after 15 months and defended alongside Saulo Decarli with Danilo Soares and Cristian Gamboa defending wide. There were also two changes in attack with Danny Blum starting the match on the bench; in his place, Tom Weilandt was in the starting eleven for the first time since October. Finally, Simon Zoller replaced Chung Yong Lee. Zoller and Weilandt formed our front line with Silvére Ganvoula as centre-forward, and Anthony Losilla, Robert Tesche and Vitaly Janelt in midfield.
HSV head coach Dieter Hecking saw no reason for any changes after their 4-1 victory over 1. FC Nuremberg keeping former Bochum boys Daniel Heuer Fernandes and Lukas Hinterseer s in the first eleven as well as winter additions Jordan Beyer and Louis Schaub.
5’ First attempt at goal when Soares gets to the ball and crosses it. Janelt rushes forward and climbs for, but can’t control his header and the ball goes well wide.
10’ The first high-calibre chance of the game belongs to the Blue-and-Whites and again it is Janelt. Zoller picks out his better-placed teammate, who drives a low left-footed shot but is denied by Heuer Fernandes with Zoller unable to get to the rebound.
20’ The visitors from Northern Germany seem to have taken control of the game, but are unable to create anything meaningful, even from several corners.
25’ This is looking good so far. At the back, we are not allowing them any space and we are always threatening to break away dangerously.
26’ Another big opportunity for VfL. From a corner, Zoller gets the ball on the left and crosses towards Losilla who helps the ball on towards the far corner, but misses narrowly.
27’ Now it’s the visitors’ turn: They attack down the left and Jeremy Dudziak finds himself in quite a bit of space from a low cross. However, he is blocked just in time only for the ball to bounce towards Sonny Kittel, whose powerful finish is deflected by Janelt for a corner. The cross finds Tim Leibold but he drills it over the bar.
31’ Phew! Decarli involuntarily extends a flank per heads it to Kittel at the far post. Fortunately, the attacker attempts a volley and completely miscues it.
37’ Janelt drives the ball through midfield and chips it into the path of Ganvoula. The Congolese striker is under pressure from a defender and the angle is too sharp for him to beat Heuer Fernandes.
38’ A yellow card for Gamboa after a foul.
39’ Bam! Adrian Fein smashes the ball against the post from 13 yards. Take a deep breath.
43’ That was close. Throw-in by Gamboa almost at the corner flag, Ganvoula back-heads it towards Losilla but our skipper is narrowly beaten to the ball by Heuer Fernandes.
In front of 24,421 fans at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion it's been a very even first half despite Hamburg having more possession.
50’ Hamburg create the first chance of the second half when Ganvoula cannot clear the ball from a corner, but Rick van Drongelen is too surprised and hits the ball wide of the goal.
52’ A bit of magic from Weilandt who passes into space to put Zoller in a promising position. But in the penalty area, van Drongelen slides in and blocks the shot. Ultimately, Heuer Fernandes beats Losilla to the loose ball.
55’ Janelt seems determined to open his scoring account tonight! After nifty footwork from (Who else?) Losilla, Vitaly cannot quite connect cleanly and misses the top corner by a yard.
57’ VfL are in the driving seat now. Leitsch dashes forward and finds Zoller who passes to Weilandt, who in turn can’t get his shot in.
59’ Free-kick to Hamburg in a very dangerous position eight yards outside our box. Kittel takes aim but hooves the ball over the bar.
61’ Kittel gets a second chance but drives the free-kick into the Bochum wall.
62’ Tactical foul by Hinterseer, who is shown yellow.
66’ GOAL! Soares down the left aims a long ball at Zoller, Ganvoula helps it on, Zoller controls it calmly and drives home beautifully from 20 yards. 1-0 VfL!
68’ That hurts! A Hamburg corner is headed away by Ganvoula only as far as Leibold who takes a pot-shot and scores a goal of the month. 1-1.
71’ Hecking takes off Hinterseer and Dudziak and throws on Joel Pohjanpalo and Gideon Jung.
74’ That didn’t take long! Pohjanpalo benefits from Leitsch’s slip and finds himself unmarked before converting Leibold’s cross easily. 2-1 to Hamburg!
75’ Winter transfer Robert Zulj comes on for Bochum in place of Janelt.
77’ Blum replaces Tesche.
80’ What a chance! Blum hits a long curving cross from the left wing but Ganvoula cannot reach it properly.
82’ Pohjanpalo finds himself in a good position but Bochum goalkeeper Drewes saves it well.
83’ A Hamburg corner finds Pohjanpalo who tries to force the ball over the line but only hits the post.
85’ Wintzheimer is our last throw of the dice. Gamboa comes off.
87’ 3-1 Kittel. Who cares how? Darn!
Looked good for quite a long time, especially after Zoller’s great goal but the equaliser came too soon and doused Bochum’s fire. This could have been a good start to the year at the Ruhrstadion but… so close yet so far!